Reflections on our campaign in Greater Manchester

You may have heard through our previous blogs that we’ve been campaigning hard – with the help of our brilliant supporters – to ensure that the new Mayor of Greater Manchester commits to fixing private renting.

The Thursday before last, the people of Greater Manchester took to the polls, and declared Andy Burnham was the person for the job.

Thanks to our supporters, he’ll enter office in the knowledge that nearly a thousand people have spoken out about the difficulties faced by too many people who are renting.

While our public campaign in the area is drawing to a close, we’ll be continuing to work hard behind the scenes – particularly through our services – to make sure Andy Burnham remembers our message, and delivers the change we need.

We’ll even be sending him a very special welcome pack, to make sure fixing renting remains a top priority.

The success of our campaign will ultimately be measured in the years to come, by the impact on private renting in Greater Manchester. We hope that our services will start to see fewer people struggling with unaffordable, unstable and unsafe renting, and that the Mayor will use his new powers to take action.

However, campaigning at a regional level has allowed us to trial new forms of campaigning, and there are some things we can reflect on immediately.

The campaign has allowed us to work more closely than ever with our services team – understanding the issues on the ground that our staff see every day, using our supporters to amplify these issues and make sure our collective voice is heard, and working to convince the Mayor to address these issues.

It’s also allowed us to tailor our communication in new ways. For example, adapting our messaging to different boroughs to make sure our campaign resonates with supporters, and that they can be heard on the issues that matter most to them. Renting in Wigan may be different to renting in Trafford, and it’s important people can tell us this.

But ultimately, the campaign has confirmed to us that the renters too often get a rough deal wherever they choose to live.

Stories of renters struggling to afford rents that just keep rising is not unique to London, with half of renters in Greater Manchester saying they struggle to pay the rent from time to time. According to our poll, the change our supporters most want to see in Greater Manchester is lower renting costs.

And we’ve seen photos shared by renters living with appalling conditions. Again, sadly this is something we see reflected up and down the country. In Greater Manchester, 2 in 5 renters surveyed have had a problem with damp, mould, electrics or pests in the last 12 months.

And we have heard from people who want to put down roots, but have been forced to move due to unstable, short term tenancies. This is something we need national action on, but the Mayor can use his influence to act as a champion for the cause.

By making change locally, we can lead the way for better renting for everyone.

We hope the new Mayor takes notice of our message, and we look forward to working with him to improve renting in Greater Manchester. Now we need to come together in even greater numbers, to ensure renters right across the country get their voices heard in the upcoming General Election.